China earthquake inspires altruism in local students

Photo Courtesy OfRobert Freeman

The recent earthquake in Sichuan, China, left many Chinese Americans and recent immigrants feeling helpless – but not local high school students.

Students at Los Altos, Mountain View and Fremont (Sunnyvale) high schools raised funds to help victims of the May 12 earthquake. The result: a $3,000 donation to the Red Cross Society of China.

Mingbo Gong, a Chinese exchange student at Los Altos High, said seeing the devastation inspired him to do something for his fellow countrymen.

"More than 70,000 people were killed. Almost 6 million were homeless," Gong said. "I wanted to help but didn't have any way to do it."

So he asked One Dollar For Life (ODFL), a charity started at Los Altos High, to help. Within a week, the group produced a series of posters and public service announcements. The posters and PSAs raised awareness at the schools and motivated students to contribute.

Silicon Valley entrepreneur Sam Liu, president of connectivity startup Newnex Technology, arranged to deliver the donation through Northern California China 512 Earthquake Relief, established to coordinate Bay Area relief efforts in the aftermath of the earthquake.

"To see students organizing this kind of effort is amazing," Liu said.

Like Liu, Robert Freeman, ODFL founder and Los Altos High social studies teacher, was impressed that local students went beyond their own schools and communities to help others in need.

"The Latino Forum at Mountain View High School donated $500," Freeman said. "That's true compassion, all the more so when it wasn't just for their own ethnic group."

Freeman said, "If it hadn't been so close to the end of the school year, we could have (extended) the drive to many more schools."

To Liu, the message is not in the amount of money raised but in the effort.

"This is such a noble act for our children to have performed," he said. "It gives you hope for the next generation."

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